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Monday, September 6, 2010

UBT 20-Hour Blood Tracking Test

Last Saturday, on September 4, 2010, the United Blood Trackers held its first 20-Hour Blood Tracking Test in Berne, NY. John Jeanneney (chief judge), Andy Bensing and I were the three judges. For the rules of the tracking test go to and click on tracking tests.  The track prepared with the maxium of 8 ounces of blood is to be at least 1000 yards in length and must incorporate three 90-degree turns. The track should be at least 20 hours and must be laid in game-rich areas.

The conditions on Saturday were tough because of dryness and strong winds. Unfortunately this was the day when the Hurricane Earl impacted the weather in our area.

Four dogs, all of them wirehaired standard dachshunds out of European hunting lines, were entered in the test. All these dogs are trackers of wounded deer and moose in Quebec, Canada. Three of them were under the age of three years, and one was eight years old.

In the morning we all met met in our parking lot and handlers drew the numbers assigned to individual blood tracks.  Alain Ridel and Theo got track 1, Steve Durocher drew track 2 with Whiskey and track 4 with Quenouille, and Guy and Cochise drew track #3. I should mention that Steve was accompanied by his partner Stéphanie Marcoux.  After the first two tracks we broke for lunch, and then continued with the last two tracks.

The main problems that the dogs had to deal with besides dry and windy conditions were hot and warm lines of deer in the area. While it is not very difficult to read a dog when he gets on a hot line, it is harder to do it when a line is warm. Multiple piles of fresh deer droppings indicated abundance of deer. In Quebec, where the three trackers use their dogs for tracking wounded deer and moose, the density of big game is lower than what they encountered during the test. It is hard to train a dog to ignore hot lines when there are no hot lines to deal with. In the end only one dog, Quenouille handled by Steve Durocher, passed the test with the score of 57 points and Prize III. She got through partly  thanks to the excellent rapport she had with Steve. A talented handler, Steve gave her extraordinary support and encouragement, especially in tough spots when she needed it, and she never gave up. It was a great pleasure and learning experience to see this team working together.

All in all it was a great weekend! On Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon we discussed challenges of tracking wounded game in Quebec and breeding wirehaired dachshunds for blood tracking. We made new friends and the common interest in blood tracking broke the barrier caused by different languages we speak. Thanks to John's French and Stephanie's ability to speak English we managed to communicate well. Below there several pictures taken during the test.

John Jeanneney (left) and Andy Bensing (right) were two of the three judges of the test. I was also a judge, but since I took pictures I don't appear in them.

A short instruction about the blood line was given by the judges, and then it was Alain and Theo's turn to track. 

Theo was put on "stay" next to his handler's knapsack while Alain inspected the hit site (below).

Alain and Theo made a quick progress on the first leg of the track.

Alain terminated the track when Theo ran out of gas. He spent too much of his mental energy on dealing with hot lines.

Steve Durocher with Whiskey

Steve and Whiskey found the wound bed.

Guy Harvey and eight-year-old Cochise are getting ready for their test.

Guy and Cochise successfuly made the first right-angle turn.

Guy and Cochise take a water break. Conditions were dry and windy and the dog had to work very hard.

Steve Durocher is giving a hug and encouragement to Quenouille before the start of their track.

Quenouille with the successfully recovered "deer" at the end of blood line.
It was an emotional moment for Steve and his partner Stéphanie Marcoux.
From the left - Andy Bensing, Jolanta Jeanneney, John Jeanneney and Steve Durocher. To the right - Guy Harvey and Alain Ridel.

Exhausted Quenouille was about to take a nap next to "her deer" after having worked for over  two hours in hard conditions.

Video - Steve realized that Quenouille had found the deer hide at the end of the track. He praised her lavishly. According to the German tradition  both Steve and Quenouille were presented with small tree branches, and Andy played a traditional German hunting tune indicating the successful ending to the track.
To see this video in a high resolution click here.


abensing said...

I did not realize how bad my horn playing had deteriorated. Sounds like I better practice more.


John Drahos said...

Andy and The Jeanneney's, I was not there, however your efforts do not go unnoticed.
Andy, get some practice playing that horn because one day you will play it for me and the dog I will have and trained. HaHa